We report two studies examining the prevalence of sexual dysfunction, and the role of psychological variables, including quality of life, on sexual activity in patients at the commencement of an outpatient cognitive-behavioural pain management programme. In Study 1, 151 patients with non-cancer pain, predominantly of musculoskeletal origin, completed a range of standardised measures, including the Pain Disability Index, Beck Depression Inventory and Coping Strategies Questionnaire. Sexual dysfunction was common, and using stepwise multiple regression analysis was found to be more frequently reported by those with greater disability and depression, shorter pain duration, and infrequent use of coping self-statements. Study 2 was a pilot investigation of the impact of sexual dysfunction on quality of life (as measured by the WHOQOL-100) in a similar sample (n=41). Although sexual dysfunction was again commonly reported, subjects perceived it had less importance in quality of life than did other factors. The combined results support the previously proposed notion of adaptation to the impact of chronic illness on sexual function. In conclusion, sexual dysfunction is common in this population and is predicted by psychological factors and pain duration. However, other issues impact more significantly on quality of life. Therapeutic approaches to sexual dysfunction in these patients might best be focused on improving psychological factors, particularly depression and coping skills.